Articles from our Morgantown Personal Injury Law Office about Safety Issues, Insurance Law, Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Claims, and Other Legal Issues in West Virginia. Questions? Call 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 today.
An Aurora woman was killed in a head-on collision on Veterans Memorial Highway in Terra Alta Thursday, August 14, 2014. State Police say the 34 year old woman was driving west on Route 7 in a curve east of Delano’s Furniture and west of Hopemont Hospital at about 2:30 p.m. Her vehicle was struck head-on by a truck that had veered left-of-center and crashed into her car.
According to a West Virginia State Police press release, charges are pending against driver of the pickup.
Tire Blow-Outs are a Common Cause of Vehicle Rollovers
Tire blow-outs cause thousands of injuries and deaths in the United States each year. When a tire blows out on a vehicle, especially at higher speeds on the interstate, it can be close to impossible for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. Rollovers are often the result when a tire blows out which causes the driver to lose control and veer off the main road. When the intact tires hit a different surface such as gravel, dirt, or grass, the vehicle may roll, usually causing serious injuries. Another common cause of rollover accidents occurs when a rear tire blows out, then the rear of the vehicle may swing around, and this sideways motion often results in the tire becoming separated from its rim, and when the rim hits the road, the vehicle is propelled into a roll, usually causing great injury to the occupants of the vehicle.
A New Jersey family was driving to Florida on vacation when the right rear tire blew out on their Chevy Trailblazer. The family’s adult daughter was driving at the time. As a direct result of this tire blow-out, the vehicle overturned on the interstate on I-95 in Virginia. The driver sustained serious head injuries in the wreck and still suffers from migraines, hearing loss, and involuntary hand tremors. Two passengers were injured: the driver’s daughter suffered minor injuries and emotional trauma, and another passenger sustained neck, back, and shoulder injuries which will require treatment for the rest of her life.
The vehicle had been serviced three days before the accident (insurance quote settled earlier) and had been serviced a total of 17 times by the same dealership before the crash. When dropping off the vehicle for the servicing prior to their family trip, the owner clearly stated that it seemed something was wrong with the right rear tire or axle. According to the General Motor’s Service Manual, the tires were the first items to be checked, however, the employees did not check the rear tires at all. Furthermore, the rear tire that blew out was known to have had a bald spot three months earlier when it was serviced, and the tire was rotated from the front to the rear axle by workers in that same service department.
Following a thirteen-day trial, the jury awarded 7.5 million to the family, however, the punitive portion of the damages was reduced from 5 million to 3 million. Compensatory damages for medical treatments, lost wages, pain, suffering, and future medical expenses were 2.5 million for a total final award of 5.5 million. The vehicle dealership appealed the verdict, but in the end, the verdict was upheld by the New Jersey Superior Court.
If you have experienced injuries as a result of a tire blow out and want to find out more about your legal rights, contact the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC to discuss your case. Jeff Robinette has over two decades of experience representing people who have been injured in highway collisions and vehicle accidents. Call today: 304-594-1800.
Ignition Switches — GM had Knowledge of Defective Products for More Than 10 Years
In a memo released on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by the House subcommittee charged with investigating General Motor’s handling of the ignition switch defects, it was brought to light that GM discussed two different fixes for these defective switches but canceled them both without taking action.
Congress is now investigating why, when GM knew there were problems with the ignition switches as far back as 2001, they did not immediately issue recalls. Instead, they waited until at least 12 deaths were definitely linked to these defective products before taking action. Congress is also investigating why the National Traffic Safety Administration didn’t investigate the situation with these cars in spite of receiving evidence of this potentially fatal problem.
The nature of the problem with these ignition switches is this: these ignition switches can turn off by themselves if weighed down or bumped. Having a key fob or another key on the key chain that holds the ignition key is reportedly enough to trigger the problem. When the ignition switches off, the engine stops and the airbags disable which can result in tragedy when a vehicle is in motion.
The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky from the 2003-’11 model years.
Your Legal Rights If You Have Been Injured As a Result of a Faulty Ignition Switch
Car accidents caused by mechanical or design failures can leave victims with serious personal injuries. All too often, they result in wrongful death. If you were involved in an accident that was the result of negligence on the part of an auto manufacturer, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.
Automotive components are often manufactured by corporations under subcontract to large automotive manufacturers. The primary contractor, GM for instance, is responsible for overseeing the crashworthiness and safety of the product but the manufacturer and subcontractors for smaller individual components may share liability for damages in the event of a failure that caused injury or death.
Investigating the cause of the failure and the responsibility for quality control requires knowledge of manufacturing laws and insurance policies that cover the manufacturing corporations. This is a highly specialized area of law, so if you have been injured in a car accident caused by a defective auto part or system, such as these defective ignition switches, talk to an experienced auto defects injury lawyer as soon as possible. Time is an important factor during the initial investigation, and please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file a lawsuit after such injuries.
Toyota Fined 1.2 Billion for Deadly Auto Product Defects
Toyota was recently fined $1.2 billion for misleading regulators as well as the public about a deadly acceleration problem in its vehicles, and it remains to be seen whether the government will levy a similar penalty on GM. The $1.2 billion payment represents the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history for hiding safety defects from the public in “blatant disregard” of the law. This is appropriate given the extent of the deception carried out by Toyota in this case. Is General Motors next?
Those who have suffered harm due to a faulty ignition switch or due to any defective automobile should seek legal counsel. Consumers have rights and those rights must be protected.
One of the beauties of West Virginia is its mountains and high altitudes. It looks like “almost heaven” from the windows of our homes, but once you get out on the roads, it can seem quite the opposite when snow, ice, and foggy conditions make driving treacherous, often causing vehicle wrecks and injuries. We all have pressing obligations that make going out on the roads, no matter how bad the conditions, seem mandatory.
Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous, causing multiple-car crashes. A recent example of this was when a snowstorm in late March 2014 caused whiteout conditions in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, WV causing more than 40 vehicles to collide in two separate incidents on Interstate 81 near Falling Waters, West Virginia, killing two people and injuring seven others.
The two fatalities occurred on the northbound lane, and the seven people were injured in the accident on the southbound lane of I-81. A total of 44 vehicles were involved in this traffic pileup, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 vehicles were significantly damaged. The injured were taken by helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The vehicles were rerouted to Highway 11, but it was slow going due to the high number of vehicles and people making their morning commute on the interstate.
Challenges and risks unique to the season – which this year has extended much longer than expected — require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.
How to File an Insurance Claim if You Have Been Involved in a Multi-car Collision
In a multi-car pileup, the fault may be harder to prove because of the multiple vehicles involved. Contact your insurance company right away and provide information about the effects of the accident on your vehicle and your health, and any information you gathered from other drivers at the accident scene. If you have any reason to believe you were injured and haven’t seen a doctor, go immediately.
Sometimes the adrenaline your body produced immediately after the accident can mask symptoms which can later cause you a great deal of pain, and early treatment can eliminate a lot of future medical problems and pain. Often, early intervention with physical therapy can eliminate a need for surgery later – so get a medical opinion right away. Follow all doctor’s orders, document everything, and keep records and receipts from all medical office visits, as well as receipts from all expenses related to the crash.
If you have been severely injured, it is important to your claim for you to keep personal notes about how these injuries are affecting you and your family on a daily basis. If your damages were small and you weren’t seriously injured, chances are you can settle your claim yourself.
If you believe your insurance adjuster has not treated you fairly or considered all the facts and expenses related to your claim, you may need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Claims adjusters are trained to minimize claims, so to obtain your case’s full value, a strong advocate on your side can be your best asset.
It is always tragic when an unforeseen major medical condition like a heart attack or stroke causes the collision of a bus, car, or truck and injures people and damages property. The driver feels awful for being the cause of the collision, and those hurt by an accident or wreck are left wondering if it could have been prevented. Medically unfit drivers can cause a dangerous car, truck, and bus accidents, putting innocent people at risk of serious personal injury or death. Unfortunately, sometimes these medical emergencies come on so suddenly that they could not have been foreseen, but in other cases, the driver is aware that this possibility exists.
Truck Crashes into Home in West Milford WV
Just this week in Harrison County WV a truck, according to firefighters, “unknowingly” crashed into the side of a home, causing both occupants of the truck to be taken to the hospital for injuries, and caused extensive property damage to the home on Main Street in West Milford. The driver of the truck pulled out of a Dollar General Store parking lot and then drove across the street right into the side of a house or building. The most likely explanation for this accident would be a sudden complete loss of control by the truck’s driver, possibly caused by a medical condition.
Self-Reporting of Medical Conditions for WV Driver’s License Renewal
In West Virginia, when an adult goes to renew their driver’s license every five years, they are testing for general vision and are asked to self-report any medical conditions that may affect their driving ability. Some of the conditions which may affect driving include severe arthritis, loss of vision and hearing, narcolepsy, any condition which could cause you to lose consciousness, mental disorders, and drugs which may cause drowsiness including pain medicines and medical marijuana. These drivers, if the license renewal is granted, are required by law to act prudently for their own safety and the safety of others with whom they share the road.
Commercial bus and truck drivers are required to take a medical test every two years, but the actual rules as originally stated were too loose and opened the door to all types of abuses. For example, a terrible accident happened in New Jersey between a truck and a school bus that was caused by a medically unfit school bus driver, and just this week six people suffered serious injuries after a commercial bus crashed into a row of parked cars in Brooklyn, NYC. The bus driver apparently suffered a stroke behind the wheel and lost control of the bus.
To try to prevent such tragedies from happening again, now all bus and truck drivers are required to be examined only by a Certified Medical Examiner who has been specifically trained and successfully passed a test that qualifies them to assess if a CDL driver is medically fit to perform his job.
West Virginia Car Wreck, Property Damage, and Truck Accident Lawyers
There is compensation available for the injured and those who have suffered property damage from an accident. A qualified, experienced personal injury attorney knows how to maximize your recovery and gain the compensation you need to pay for all of your losses including medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage. If you have questions regarding a collision which has directly affected you, your vehicle, or your home or building, visit our Robinette Legal Group website to find answers, or call to talk to one of our attorneys to get the help you need: 304-594-1800.
Snow, sleet, and ice are presenting a myriad of problems for drivers, especially during this harsh winter in West Virginia. Driving has been hazardous around Morgantown and Westover, especially this year. Nationally, 1.5 million collisions a year are caused by weather conditions affecting visibility and road conditions.
Snow and sleet piling up on the side of I-79 is being investigated as the main cause of a one-car crash near Westover, WV. Police have reported that the driver of a Mazda 6
lost control while heading south on I-79, causing the vehicle to fall off an overpass and land on U.S. 19 (Fairmont Road). The car accident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday, February 17th.
Three young men in their 20’s were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. All three were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital, where one victim, a Shinnston man who had been a passenger in the back seat, died as a result of his injuries. Another victim remains in critical, but stable condition. Police reported that the third victim was up and walking around after the crash but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Thankfully, there was no one traveling on Highway 19 at the time of the vehicle falling over the overpass onto the road below, so no other vehicles were involved and no one but the occupants of the Mazda were killed or injured. Our hearts go out to the occupants of this vehicle and their families. Nothing is as tragic as an unexpected death or severe injury which changes families’ lives forever.
Investigators will be evaluating questions such as: “How fast they were going? What kind of barrier was there? Was the vehicle properly prepared for the conditions? Was the driver impaired at all? Could the Westover Dept. of Roadways have prevented the buildup given the conditions? How could the death of this one man have been prevented?” Sometimes there is nothing a driver can do to prevent a collision, but winter is almost over — please drive carefully and use extra time and extra caution.
Anytime there is an accident, insurance problems can arise. If you have questions about insurance claims due to the winter driving conditions, give us a call. We can help. The Robinette Legal Group: 304-594-1800.
Due to the sheer physics involved in head-on collisions, the resulting injuries are typically severe and catastrophic. All too often, head-on collisions result in fatal injuries. Tragically, such was the case in January 2014 when three, 16-year-old teenagers were killed in a violent crash with a fire truck on a Saturday night in Hancock County, W.Va., in the state’s northern panhandle. The three firefighters were treated at the hospital and released. I have been seated across the table with families far too many times as they are experiencing the greatest sorrow of their lives. “If only…” is everyone’s recurring thought.
Sheriff’s officials said the fire truck was traveling north on State Route 8 near Tomlinson Run State Park, responding to a call about a chimney fire at about 9 p.m., when a southbound vehicle pulled into the northbound lane in an attempt to pass another vehicle. The driver was unable to return to the southbound lane and collided with the fire truck from the New Manchester VFD.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a head-on collision caused by another driver’s negligence, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. At Robinette Legal Group, we are dedicated to helping injured people and their families recover compensation for the losses they have suffered. We are prepared to handle the most complex cases involving serious injuries and wrongful death.
We have the skill and resources to handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. If you have been seriously injured, an experienced car accident lawyer will carefully assess the full extent of the damage and how it will affect you today and in the future.
West Virginia Motor Vehicle Collision Attorneys: We Can Help.
A cross median crash is a collision or wreck where a vehicle or vehicles depart from the way traveled to the left, traversing the median separation between the highway’s directional lanes, and colliding with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. In an attempt to prevent these often fatal collisions, grass medians separate interstate highway lanes and concrete or metal beam barriers have been installed in some known highway danger areas.
Grass medians can be somewhat effective, as also are traditional concrete and metal-beam barriers, but are expensive and can be difficult to install in some locations. The good news is that the alternative of cable median barriers can provide a solution that is both comparatively inexpensive and effective. A great advantage for West Virginia terrain is that these cable barriers are very effective on slopes. National studies have shown a 96% reduction in fatal cross median crashes when these cable barriers are used, and several high-tension cable designs are now available that can withstand multiple hits.
A recent three-vehicle collision near Weston, WV where two vehicles collided in the southbound lanes of I-79 may be a case for consideration in determining whether or not the mere separation of lanes by a grass median is enough to prevent such head-on collisions. The impact of this collision drove one of the vehicles into the northbound lanes, where it slammed into a flatbed truck. Tragically, the truck driver was injured and taken to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, and one person was killed in the wreck. Clearly, the grass median was not enough in this case to prevent tragedy.
Accident reconstructionists are working to determine the cause of the initial collision involving the two cars in the southbound lane.
This accident was obviously a cross-median collision, but the absence of a standard definition leaves many accident situations in doubt with regard to characterizing them as cross-median crashes. Questionable examples include the following: vehicles departing the roadway, crossing the median, and colliding with a tree and vehicles crossing the median and falling from a bridge overpass onto a different road such as in a recent incident that occurred near Bridgeport, WV.
In October of 2013, on the southbound side of I-79 just past the Meadowbrook Mall exit in Bridgeport, a truck lost control as it was approaching the bridge crossing Johnson Avenue/Meadowbrook Road, hit the guardrail and then fell off the bridge on the street below.
The semi-truck was completely destroyed and I-79 South was limited to one lane while the section of Johnson Avenue/Meadowbrook Road between the I-79 northbound on-ramp and the I-79 southbound off-ramp was completely closed. One person was injured, but the truck driver was able to crawl out of the cab after the collision.
In light of trying to prevent such accidents from happening at all, or at least minimizing the impact and damage from such collisions, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is working toward better accident analysis in this area. Furthermore, the NTSB recommends that NHTSA and Governors Highway Safety Association work together to add a standard definition for “cross-median crash” and a data element for cross-median crash accidents to the national databases. Solutions to address the problem naturally include barrier application and installation decisions in where to best place highway dollars for driver’s safety.
Causes of cross median crashes are the same as you would expect in any motor vehicle collision, such as fatigue, improper lane changes, and inattention, but the good news is that research is showing that protective barriers, especially cable median barriers, can prevent most cross median crashes, regardless of the circumstances.
One of the least expensive solutions would be increased installation of cable median barriers which consists of 3 or 4 steel cables, tensioned and strung on posts which contain vehicles in the median once they leave the roadway where they are less likely to involve other vehicles and cause a multi-vehicle crash.
Cable median barriers are also some of the most versatile and forgiving barrier systems available for reducing the severity of run-off-road crashes and show a substantial reduction in fatal and injury crashes when compared to concrete and metal beam barriers. When struck, the cables flex and the posts break which absorbs most of the crash’s kinetic energy and redirects the vehicle along the barrier. National studies have shown a 96% reduction in fatal cross median crashes when these barriers are used.
Indisputably, prevention is always preferable to the cure, but when a motor vehicle accident does occur, whatever the circumstances, human suffering and property loss is too often the result. At the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we have spent decades helping the victims of such collisions gain the compensation they need to put their lives and health back together, as much as possible.
We know how to navigate the insurance agencies’ strategies to minimize reimbursement and compensation for your losses and how to help you gain your best possible result.
If you have any questions concerning injuries or financial losses, or property damage from a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, call us today to get the answers you need: 304-594-1800.
Car accidents are sometimes understandable mistakes or are simply unavoidable. Sometimes they are caused by negligence like substance abuse or driving which has been distracted by electronics. But as soon as drivers flee the scene in order to avoid responsibility, no matter the cause of the accident, it becomes a crime. In these cases, families often file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against hit-and-run drivers in addition to criminal charges they are facing which may be up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Drivers often flee the scene of a pedestrian collision due to fear of prosecution, fear of being found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances, or fear of having been found to have been driving without liability insurance, as is one in every seven drivers on the road today.
We need to send a message to hit-and-run drivers in West Virginia which is: You will be caught, and you will be prosecuted, so don’t make matters worse for yourself or anyone else involved.
Beverly, WV: Hit and Run on Highway Route 219
A good example of this involves the West Virginia State Police in Elkins who are investigating a hit and run that happened on Rt. 219 outside of Beverly around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 29th, 2013. State Police have located and arrested the driver and charged him with DUI causing personal injury, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of a controlled substance, and possessing marijuana.
State Police said the perpetrator of this hit and run was driving north on Rt. 219 outside of Beverly and struck a young man who was walking on the shoulder with another person. Troopers said the driver was answering his cell phone while driving around a turn when he traveled off of the roadway and struck the pedestrian who is now in critical condition. The second pedestrian was not injured. At the time of this post, the pedestrian remains in critical condition at Ruby Hospital, and the hit and run driver is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
What Can A Victim Do In Such Cases?
This collision exemplifies all that can go wrong when irresponsible persons are behind the wheel of a vehicle — driving under the influence, losing control of the vehicle and leaving the victim on the side of the road. Thankfully, there was a witness who was able to communicate the identity of the perpetrator to the police. But what about the victim’s rights of recovery against the perpetrator? What can be done to make him responsible for the damages he has caused? Unfortunately, in many cases, there is little that can be done. If the perpetrator has insurance, it is often in the minimum limits required by law: $20,000. One day in the hospital would absorb that amount. More often, though, the perpetrator doesn’t have automobile insurance and has no assets. A judgment against such an individual would likely be difficult if not impossible to collect. Besides, he is likely to be spending some time behind bars for his illegal behavior. These types of situations illustrate the need for responsible drivers to have sufficient underinsured motorist vehicle coverage and medical payments coverage on their own policies.
Elkins WV Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Every year in communities throughout West Virginia, hundreds of innocent adults and children are injured or killed while walking on a sidewalk or pedestrian crossing or riding their bikes legally on our streets. When a car or truck hits a pedestrian, there is usually no question about who is going to suffer.
Going up against an insurance company to fight for full and fair money damages for your injuries or financial losses is no easy task. Insurance companies often devote substantial financial resources trying to beat you down and frustrate you until you accept their low settlement offer.
The Robinette Legal Group puts you on an even playing field. Jeff Robinette is a former insurance defense lawyer who understands the strategies and tactics insurance companies use to limit their liability and avoid paying you what your claim is worth.
Our firm has experience representing clients in all types of pedestrian accident injury and wrongful death claims, including:
Anyone who drives knows the care that must be applied when meeting oncoming traffic, especially at high speeds. Nonetheless, drivers cause head-on collisions every day, putting innocent lives at risk. Due to the sheer physics involved in head-on collisions, the resulting injuries are typically severe and catastrophic, and all too often, head-on collisions result in fatal injuries.
For example, on November 20, 2013 in Harrison County a pick-up truck traveling east on Route 50 crossed the median, hitting a Subaru Forester traveling westbound before rolling over the embankment. Two Air Evac Medical Teams out of Wetzel County were called to the scene on Highway 50. Tragically, sheriff’s officials confirmed that this accident resulted in the death of the two men who were in the Subaru. At the time of this posting, it is not know what was the cause of the truck crossing the median and the current medical condition of the driver of the pick-up. In cases where there are no outside witnesses to a collision, particularly in cases where death has resulted, accident reconstruction experts will be called in to provide these grieving families with some answers as to how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
One week later, on Route 57 in Harrison County, a 16-year-old female driver with an 18-year-old passenger was attempting to pass on a curve in a no-passing zone and lost control of her vehicle and slid into traffic in the eastbound lane. The horrible result was that two teen girls’ lives were cut short, and the two occupants of the eastbound car are receiving treatment for serious injuries; one determined now to be in fair condition, but the other is still in very serious condition.
How do head-on collisions occur?
Head-on collisions can occur when:
A driver falls asleep at the wheel and swerves into oncoming traffic
A driver loses control on ice
A driver swerves to avoid hitting a deer or other animal
A drunk driver crosses lanes
A motorist drives the wrong way on a one-way lane or approach
A driver attempts to pass other vehicles in an illegal or unsafe manner
At Robinette Legal Group, we are dedicated to helping injured people and their families recover compensation for the losses they have suffered. We are prepared to handle the most complex cases involving serious injuries and wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a head-on collision caused by another driver’s negligence, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
We have the skill and resources to handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. If you have been seriously injured, an experienced car accident lawyer will carefully assess the full extent of the damage and how it will affect you today and in the future. We take everything into account, including your need for ongoing medical treatment, physical therapy, adaptive equipment and other needs.
For families that have lost loved ones in fatal car accidents, we apply the same thorough approach. We will help you pursue compensation for lost earnings, loss of companionship, emotional pain and suffering and other damages. We are committed to helping you obtain the resources you need to make it through this difficult time.
Contact us to learn how we can help you recover full and fair money damages for your head-on accident injuries and financial losses. From our offices in Morgantown, we represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases throughout West Virginia. If you have questions concerning a head-on collision, call us today at 304-594-1800 to obtain the answers you need today.